by Trisha Dempsey
I am thrilled to announce that our Support Syrian Newcomers With Learning English fundraising campaign, has surpassed its fundraising goal! Thanks to many generous donations, together we raised $4,127 - surpassing the goal of $3,500. Now, instead of the 100 dictionaries we were hoping to purchase with the funds, we will now be able to purchase about 130 copies of the English-Arabic Picture Dictionary. As you can see in the photo below... the books have begun to arrive!
Many, many thanks to the individuals who have donated to the campaign since it first launched at the end of January 2016. We could not have done this without you! Thanks also to Kind Krafts for choosing Refugees Belong as one of their fundraising recipients this past winter, and I want to give an huge thank you shout-out to Kristine and the wonderful people who collaborated with her to host the very successful fundraising dinner event on May 28th. This dinner event raised over $2000 - thus enabling us to finish the campaign!
52 dictionaries have already been delivered to the families. This would not have been possible without Abdurrahman, who has assisted with the deliveries and has been such a reliable and wonderful interpreter. This delivery effort was also made possible with the help of several other individuals and groups who are connected with some of the new families, and have assisted me with coordinating deliveries to them. The discount provided by Oxford University Press for the purchase of many of these dictionaries is much appreciated.
Finally, I am so grateful for the many Syrian families I have met who welcomed me into their homes for a cup of tea, and graciously corrected my humble attempts at speaking in Arabic. The dictionary deliveries have been a lot of fun and there are many more deliveries to do!
To find out more about why it is important to empower newcomers with access to English language learning materials and why I chose this particular resource, check out this earlier blog post and the fundraising site. You can also watch the campaign video below...
Have you been wondering about the Syrian refugee family that we are privately sponsoring? Well, us too! The Refugees Belong private sponsorship effort, along with many other private sponsorship efforts across the country, has unfortunately gotten caught in the processing slow-down that happened in March, after the Liberal government met their election promise of bringing 25,000 refugees to Canada by the end of February. After the advocacy and outcry from private sponsorship groups, in early May the government agreed to send more staff to the Middle East to try and speed up the process again, but timelines are still unclear.
We were given the family's phone number which has allowed us to pass on information (through WhatsApp) about Canada, to share pictures of the apartment, and to reassure them that we are still advocating on their behalf to bring them here soon. It is great to be in contact with them! We are hoping they arrive before the end of the summer, but in the meantime we are renting the apartment for short-term stays on Airbnb to prevent financial loss.
In other news however, the other refugee family that is being sponsored by one of the members of Refugees Belong (and supported in part, by Refugees Belong) - has arrived! This sponsorship application has been in process for 8 long years. The mother and daughter from Zimbabwe arrived in Halifax a few weeks ago on May 24th and they are settling into their new home. We are so happy that this wonderful family finally made it to Halifax after such a difficult and frustrating delay. Their arrival in Canada can be largely credited to the determination, persistence, and advocacy work, of one amazing Shawna Lucas.
Thank you to everyone who donated or helped to organize items for the big yard sale fundraiser, which was held a few weeks ago. These funds will go toward supporting the newly arrived mother and daughter from Zimbabwe.
Other updates: Refugees Belong is now officially registered as a not-for-profit society with Nova Scotia's Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and we are working on our next initiative - stay tuned!